CHICAGO (CBS) — The coronavirus pandemic has altered the way people are celebrating this Thanksgiving, but 2020 is shaping up to be even harder for those in need.
In years past, the Salvation Army has brought smiles, food, and fellowship as with a communal Thanksgiving dinner that everyone could gather to eat together. This year, such a thing is not possible for more than 200 families.READ MORE: Cook County Surpasses 1,000 Homicides For First Time Since 1994
“There’s definitely a greater need,” Salvation Army Lt. Shanell Johnson told CBS 2’s Jermont Terry.
Johnson, with the Kroc Center in the West Pullman neighborhood, sees that need firsthand.
“I get calls all hours of the day of people – needing assistance, needing prayer, needing guidance, needing support,” she said.
And there are many first-time families turning to the Kroc Center.
“There are a lot of individuals going without,” Johnson said.
In addition to a Thanksgiving feast, the Salvation Army would provide turkey giveaways. This year, COVID-19 changed that too.
“Offering those assistance directly to the trunks of people’s cars,” Johnson said.
But what about those without cars, or worse, no roof over their heads? Riccardo Holyfield’s group, Gods Gorillas, goes out every third Friday armed with hot full-course meals for the homeless.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Mild Start To December
“Not only on Thanksgiving, not only just the holidays,” Holyfield said. “They need them every day of the week.”
As Gods Gorillas pass out the meals, Holyfield said he has noticed a disturbing trend in those living on the streets.
“It’s a lot of kids and it’s a lot of females,” Holyfield said.
The pandemic has forced those who usually volunteer to stay home. But Holyfield said the shelter-in-place leaves those without a place with an even bigger void.
“They’re losing out on things they would normally get,” he said. “They’re not getting enough of what they normally get.”
That is why back at the Salvation Army, they are reminding volunteers not to forget to adopt a family through the Angel Tree fundraiser.
“As I mentioned, the need is greater – so we need more toys than we had last year as well as more funds to push out that assistance for families that will need it this year,” Johnson said.Chicago's Top Doctor 'Concerned' About COVID Variant Omicron, It Can Be Detected In The U.S. Within 'Days Or Weeks'
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